If I suggested that you be shrewd, would you feel uneasy with that advice? Do you equate shrewdness with being crooked?
Several translations of the Bible, including the popular New International Version, include this command from Jesus:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16)
Other versions translate "shrewd" as "wise," which sounds more acceptable, but the idea is that we should be as crafty as snakes yet as harmless to others as doves, one of the gentlest birds.
Let's apply Jesus' order to his disciples to your life, as a single person.
Commercials and advertisements are all around us. Over the past 100 years, advertising has turned into a science, with psychological studies, surveys, and enough research to accurately predict what "hot buttons" to push to get consumers to let go of their money. If you're not wise, you can fall prey to these traps.
We all want to belong. Advertisers exploit that. Commercials try to make you feel like a reject if you don't have the latest, phone, iPod, computer, car, or whatever. But who says you have to belong? You won't die if you don't keep up with the latest model, and you'll save a lot of money if you take care of your possessions and make them last as long as possible.
Don't get caught up in the insane scramble to always have the "next big thing." Also, don't believe you have to have the "very best" of everything. That's another lie that manipulates your insecurities: "If I have the best, I'll be the best." With many items, you can get along fine with the middle-priced or lower-priced model. That's especially true of store brands of food. Most of the cost of big-name brands goes for advertising.
Finally, be smart by planning for your financial future. You can be well-off in your retirement by starting to save and invest early--like right now. Putting something away each payday is the intelligent person's sacrifice. After your working career is over, it's too late to save for your retirement then, and believe me, you'll either thank me that you did or wish you had.
Value yourself. Treat yourself with respect and demand that others do so too. Don't let them treat you like a doormat. Single women especially need to watch out for this.
Because of low self-esteem, many women will take a lot of trash from their boyfriend, thinking they can't do any better or can't get someone else. Wise up! If a man won't treat you with respect, send him packing! You're too good to put up with that kind of grief.
The same applies to you. You have an obligation to treat others with respect and courtesy. When you don't, whatever happens to you is your own fault.
Look, maybe you enjoy drama, but I think it's for idiots. Mature,
caring adults should be compassionate toward each other. Tell the truth
and demand that other people tell the truth to you. You get what you
give. If you're mean and nasty, don't be surprised when people are mean
and nasty back.
If you should try online dating, it's extra important to be shrewd. Don't be naive and believe everything you're told. Watch for inconsistencies. Don't assume a person's profile is authentic, even on Christian dating sites. Be alert. Protect yourself. A person who is out for himself or herself will reveal their true nature over time, and the odds are if they're only interested in bedroom games, they'll drop you when that doesn't happen.
How much of your life is Facebook, Twitter, your iPod, and your phone eating up? And more importantly, what are you getting out of it?
New surveys show interest is dropping off in Facebook, simply because it wastes so much time with nothing to show for it. Your time is limited. If your place is a mess or you're constantly rushing, take a look at what you spend your time on, and how much of it.
Are you getting where you want to go? Why not? Are you spending too much time on things that take you in the opposite direction or don't help at all? Be more careful with your time than you are with your money, because you can't get more time.
You don't instantly become shrewd. You study smart people and imitate their habits. You read good books on money and efficiency.
If you're serious about being shrewd, you read the Bible. That's right. Within its pages is some of the most profound wisdom on earth.
Check out the book of Proverbs. Read Ecclesiastes. Read the gospels, paying special attention to the words of Jesus.
Get a copy of the Life Application Study Bible, which has footnotes that tell you how to apply the Bible to your everyday life.
It's a dangerous world out there. Satan is real, temptation is around every corner, and tragedy can result from wrong decisions. Protect yourself. Take precautions and be careful, and you'll avoid a trainload of trouble.